LOS ANGELES — Manager Jim Tracy thought Tom Gorzelanny’s stuff was better today in the 7-5 victory against the Dodgers than it was a few days ago against the Cardinals. Gorzelanny wasn’t so sure about that.
“I think my stuff was … pretty good today,” Gorzelanny said. “The fourth inning is what got me.”
The Pirates took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fourth, but the Dodgers rallied with a couple of well-hit balls, a little luck and a bit of help from home plate umpire Ed Rapuano. Gorzelanny got rattled, but did not fold.
With runners at second and third and two out, Luis Gonzalez smashed a hard come-backer up the middle. The ball ricocheted off Gorzelanny’s foot toward first base. Second baseman Freddy Sanchez had to cut back when the ball bounced off Gorzelanny and by the time Sanchez tracked it down, Gonzalez was at first base and a run was in. Russell Martin drew a full-count walk, loading the bases.
The count also went full on Brady Clark. Gorzelanny threw a nice pitch, but Rapuano called ball four. That forced in a run.
It also was a bad call.
A laser tracker provided by MLB.com showed the pitch was low but still above the knees — easily in the zone for what should have been a called third strike.
Gorzelanny was visibly upset by the call. Wilson Valdez took the count full and then fouled off two pitches before Gorzelanny retired him on a pop-up.
“I should have made that play on Gonzalez,” Gorzelanny said. “I wasn’t happy with the walks, either, but I kept battling and we got out of it.”
That turned out to be huge for the Pirates. And it’s huge, too, for Gorzelanny, who is off to a 3-0 start. On a day when the Pirates were reeling a bit from a 7-3 wipeout in 10 innings the night before, Gorzelanny’s performance as a stopper — putting the brakes on a four-game losing skid — was vital.
— So this road trip is over. I can’t wait to get out of cold, rainy Los Angeles (after stops in cold, rainy Milwaukee and chilly St. Louis) and get back to Pittsburgh, where my wife says it was gorgeous the past few days.